ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (4): 602-613.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.00602

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Neurophysiological Mechanism of Neuroticism

HUANG Yamei1,3; ZHOU Renlai1,2,3,4; WU Mengying1,3   

  1. (1 Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (2 State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning & IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (3 Research Center of Emotion Regulation, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (4 Department of Psychology, School of Social and Behavior Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China)
  • Received:2014-04-22 Online:2015-04-15 Published:2015-04-15
  • Contact: ZHOU Renlai, E-mail:


Neuroticism is a trait of personality, and its core feature is the tendency to experience negative emotions. Highly neurotic individuals had more intense emotional reactions as well as poorer performances on emotion perception and coping. Thus, these individuals tended to experience more negative emotions, leading them to be more vulnerable to a series of mental and physical disorders. Due to these factors, neuroticism has become one of the most important risk factors in development of psychopathology. Evidence from studies concerning autonomic nervous system, endocrine system, and the brain showed that highly neurotic individuals had reduced cardiovascular flexibility, enhanced HPA baseline activity, increased EEG activity, and enhanced amygdala activity induced by negative emotions. More importantly, there was evidence that the top-down and bottom-up pathway of amygdala may be the key to explain these associations. Future research is strongly encouraged to integrate methods from genetics, electrophysiology, biochemistry, and brain imaging technology, so as to construct a neuro-physiological model of neuroticism.

Key words: neuroticism, autonomic nerves system, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, amygdala